Screening at different ages

Breast cancer risk increases with age.

For every 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer

5 people
will be aged under 40
15 people
will be aged 40 to 49
80 people
will be aged 50 or over

Every 100 diagnosed graphic

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare


Women under 40

We don’t offer breast screening for women under 40.

The breasts of younger women are usually denser than the breasts of older women. Dense areas of breasts appear white on x-rays. Breast cancers also appear white on x - rays. This makes breast cancers harder to find in x - rays of younger breasts.

Breast cancer in women under 40 is rare. Women aged under 40 account for about 5% of breast cancer diagnoses.

Research has found that breast screening doesn’t reduce deaths from breast cancer in women under 40.

Women aged 40 to 49

We offer breast screening for women aged 40 to 49, but we won’t send you an invitation to screen. You’ll need to contact us to make an appointment.

Women in this age group can have breasts that are denser than the breasts of older women. Dense areas of breasts appear white on x - rays. Breast cancers also appear white on x-rays. This makes breast cancers harder to find in x - rays of younger breasts.

Breast cancer in women under 50 isn’t common. Women under 50 account for about 20% of breast cancer diagnoses.

Research has found that breast screening is less effective for women aged 40 to 49 than for women aged 50 to 74.

Women aged 50 to 74

If you’re aged 50 to 74, you should have a breast screen every 2 years.

If you haven't screened with us before, we'll send you an invitation to start screening around the time of your 50th birthday. We'll then remind you to screen every 2 years after that.

The risk of breast cancer increases greatly after the age of 50. About 80% of breast cancers occur in women who are 50 and over.

Research has found that regular breast screening of women aged 50 to 74 is effective in finding breast cancers and reducing deaths from breast cancer.

Women 75 and over

We offer breast screening for women who are 75 and over, but we won’t send you an invitation or reminders to screen. You’ll need to contact us to make an appointment.

There are different risks and benefits of breast screening for women who are 75 and over. If you’re in this age group, you should talk to your doctor to find out if breast screening is right for you.

Last updated:October 2021